Girls State comes back to TSU

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 5, 2000

Staff Writer

Troy will have more than 300 visitors as high school juniors from across the state participate in Alabama Girls State June 10-15.

This is be the second year, Troy State University has hosted the annual event, sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, that teaches young women about civics and citizenship.

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Delegates are divided into cities and counties and elect local officials, said Lee Sellers of Montgomery, who will serve as director of this year’s session. The students also serve as senators and representatives, debating bills and proposing solutions to problems facing elected officials.

The highlight of the week is the election of the governor of Girls State and other constitutional officers, Sellers said. She added that students benefit from hearing prominent speakers such as elected officials and business leaders.

Although the Girls State delegates will be divided into the Nationalist and Federalist parties, they will learn more about Alabama’s two-party system from Betty Fine Collins, Alabama’s National Committeewoman for the Republican Party, and Elizabeth North, a nationally-recognized Democratic activist.

Speakers for this year’s session will include Lt. Gov. Steve Windom, Attorney General Bill Pryor, State Treasurer Lucy Baxley, State Auditor Susan Parker, Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justices Jean Brown and Lyn Stuart, Criminal Appeal Court Judge Sue Bell Cobb, State Sen. Harri Anne Smith, Montgomery County District Attorney Ellen Brooks, pollster John Anzalone and political commentator Bob Ingram.

Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman will also speak to the delegates when they make a trip to Montgomery on the final day. On Friday, the entire group will travel to the capital and tour the Capitol, have their fourth legislative session in the House and Senate Chambers and visit with "counterparts" who work in different aspects of state government.

Last year, TSU became only the second college or university to host Girls State in its 50-year history.

During the 2000 session of Alabama Girls State, Pike County was represented by Senthy Rachel, who just graduated from Pike Liberal Arts School and Tori Jones, a recent Charles Henderson High School graduate.

Both enjoyed the week and learned more about the political process and were even elected to offices.

Rachel was elected her county’s tax assessor and Jones was elected to municipal office and has served as chairwoman for the city of Tallulah.

"It gives you a real feel of the government," Jones said of Alabama Girls State.

While both have become more informed regarding government, they have also learned some lessons that will carry both far in whatever career they choose.

Jones said being an Alabama Girls State delegate has improved her public speaking skills because she had to give speeches while running for office.

The Girls State experience, for Rachel, has honed her communication skills through meeting new people and campaigning.

Next week, girls will likely be walking on the TSU campus with the same thoughts and feelings and Troy State officials are more than happy to welcome the delegates.

"We’re pleased that Girls State is returning to Troy State University," said Jack Hawkins Jr., chancellor of Troy State. "We emphasize building leadership values in our students, so Girls State fits in with our mission."

During the week, the girls, who just finished their junior year in high school, will make time for a little fun. They will have Skit Night, field games and a Coke and Karaoke Party hosted by TSU.